Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady

The Wagering Widow

Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress
by Diane Gaston
(Harlequin Historical, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN- 978-0-373-29609-5
Just like the title suggests, Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress follows the blossoming love between nice, chivalrous and all-around good guy, Captain Allan Landon and the woman of his desires, Miss Marian Pallant. Marian’s independence and very low opinion of what’s proper and her drive to do what’s right earn her the title of ‘rebel.’ This stands in stark contrast to her male counterpart; hence the title.

This Regency period romance takes place during and after The Battle of Waterloo. While Captain Allan Landon is headed back to camp right before the battle, he stumbles upon a young boy in a rye field. This boy is actually Marian in disguise (surprise!), who has lost her way after her friend took off without her to go watch the battle and to see her fiancé fight. Dumb idea? Oh, yeah. Strictly speaking, Marian was there to ‘protect’ her friend, but considering neither one of them knew what they were doing, Marian should have locked her friend in her room instead of letting her friend convince her that going to watch the battle wouldn’t be that dangerous. Come on! Even in boys’ clothing, going to a battle is never a good idea.

Allan is not impressed with the situation. He takes Marian back to headquarters and orders her to keep pretending to be a boy and to keep a low profile. Allan will figure out what to do about all of this once he’s back from helping the English stick it to Napoleon. When the battle commences, Marian discovers the headquarters is also the hospital for the wounded and sets to work trying to ease the suffering of her wounded countrymen.

Once the battle is more or less over, Allan comes back for her and attempts to get her the heck out of there, as that is the sensible and chivalrous thing to do. Only he ends up getting injured and they need to take shelter so that he can recover.

It’s one of those romance novel perfect set-ups. The couple is more or less alone, the man is defenseless and the woman must care for him.This gives the sexual tension time to reach the boiling point and as the couple reaches that point....chivalry sucks the fun out of it.

Honestly, I think I set myself up for disappointment a few times while reading this book, as I kept hoping that Allan would loosen his stranglehold on ‘what’s decent and right.’ But no, he’s the paragon of proper. The couple are soon torn apart by circumstances beyond their control.

Later on in the novel, back on the home front, Marian is now a secret political protester who fights for the rights and for the proper treatment of England’s Waterloo veterans who have been more or less forgotten by the English government after the war. Allan. on the other hand, works for the English equivalent of the Department of Homeland Security. His job is to make sure protests don’t happen, as protests lead to riots and riots lead to unnecessary violence (which falls way outside of the parameters of being a gentleman). Now they must fight their own feelings, as well as fighting their own battles.

Overall, I enjoyed Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress. Yes, I know I’ve taken a bunch of shots at Allan and his gentlemanly ways, but I just can’t help it. Gaston keeps reinforcing the fact that Allan is the perfect gentlemen. For me, it got to the point of being slightly annoying. I wanted him to go wild and do something crazy like knocking over a park bench or trying his cravat in a new and innovative way or, you know, chill out enough to listen to his heart instead of his British rule manual of a brain.

Finally, Allan does manage to move past decorum and when he does, hallelujah! The sex is great and story takes a dramatic turn towards fast-paced excitement.

Marian is a fun character who doesn’t want anyone to tell her what to do. She’s got her own money and is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. Also, I love the fact that she’s involved in politics, even if it is in a sneaky way. Even when Allan once again comes into her life, her main priority is the better treatment of the veterans.

Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress is well-written and fully formed. There were no real loose ends or unnecessary tangents. All of the characters, including the supporting characters were well done and quite interesting to read about. The book never really drags or dithers on unimportant points. All of this being said, the book doesn’t throw any curve balls either. I can’t really think of anything negative to say about it, besides poking fun at Allan.

But all in all, I enjoyed Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good Regency-set romance. However, if you enjoy more spice, you may want to try another book. Diane Gaston plays it pretty safe and fairly old school with this one.

--Lindsey Seddon

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